MY FAVOURITE VIEW
Herb grower Jekka Mcvicar
Herb grower Jekka Mcvicar never tires of RHS Garden Rosemoor
hen I gaze at the herb garden at Rosemoor in Devon, there is no doubt that this is the view that beats all others. It’s my local RHS garden, and I’ve been visiting it for years. There are so many wonderful planting combinations that stop you dead in your tracks. I like seeing different ones that I haven’t thought of using. In my garden, I love using red-leaved herbs, which makes the green look ‘greener’. What I love most about Rosemoor is the space and how nothing feels cramped or packed in. You can wander from the roses into the herb garden, then down to the kitchen garden. In summer, they have a wonderful display of lemon bergamot, which is absolutely beautiful, and there is also a lovely thyme bed. It never feels like work going there.
WNow is the best time of year to enjoy a herb garden. The lavender is in flower, as are thyme and rosemary, oregano and sage. Herbs in the Lamiaceae family, which includes thyme, sage, oregano, basil, rosemary, lavender and mint, are my favourites.
Herbs are a passion and a way of life for me. One of the best things you can do in a herb garden is just sit down, breathe in all the aromas and listen to the buzzing of the bees. Herb gardens should be designed so that you can sit in them. People have done this since ancient times. We have lost a sense of peacefulness in today’s society and we need to get it back – it will help our wellbeing more than anything.
I first became interested in herbs through cooking. When I go out to my herb garden in summer, I’m looking for herbs to snip and add to salads. They are such versatile ingredients, and just a small amount of leaves will transform a salad into something special. I love adding fresh herbs to dressings, too, particularly basil or mint. And I use oregano in my pizza dough or scatter thyme on top.
I was thrilled and honoured to have been appointed an RHS ambassador earlier this year. I’ve asked for a flag to put on my delivery van! People don’t realise how much plants give us and how they really enhance our lives. There’s something about gardening that makes me so happy. I also believe you can help yourself to keep well by using plants. I make rosemary tea, as it’s been proven to help stimulate memory – just a 2cm sprig added to a cup of boiling water and left to stand for five minutes, then strained. When I have a lot on and I’m trying to remember things, rosemary tea is amazing at helping. The smell alone clears the head and it’s really good, too, for lifting your mood.
RHS Garden Rosemoor, rhs.org.uk. Jekka’s Herb Farm, jekkasherbfarm.com. Jekka created a show garden for St John’s Hospice at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show; stjohnshospice.org.uk.